TURNSTILE- ‘Glow On’

If the last Turnstile album was a small but highly concentrated ball of energy, a hadouken of hardcore, this is the mushroom cloud left over when that energy finally reaches critical mass. This is the audio equivalent of one of those videos showing someone slice open a cone of yarn– what was tightly packed, pops open, what was inside, is suddenly outside. That’s not to say that ‘Glow On’ hangs loose, Turnstile still play their punk rock with precision, it’s just that I’m not 100% sure that this is a punk rock record at all. This is something … more. It might not surprise anyone that has been following the band for the last few years, but it turns out what’s inside Turnstile, is remarkable.

It all begins with a shimmering whirl of synths- a neat palette cleanser from everything that’s come before, and a sign that almost anything is possible during what comes next. Then, once fully popped open, first track ‘Mystery’ proves that point by combining a pit-starting riff with clean, echoing vocals, a wailing guitar solo, and bold, loaded moments of near silence. It’s the sort of song you can dance to on your very first listen. Or it’s the sort of song that makes you not move a muscle instead, only sit and listen. It is almost certainly not what you’re expecting. Elsewhere there are piano rolls, auto-tuned vocals, Latin rhythms, and drum machine beats. And we’re still only 10 minutes in. The best bit? Where Turnstile’s experimentation felt a little tacked on before, here they blend everything in. This isn’t ambition, this is actualisation. 

‘Underwater Boi’ swims from dream pop to hazy (but never shoegazey, Turnstile have wholeheartedly swerved that trend) guitars to a grunting, simple but super effective riff. ‘Alien Love Call’ benefits from Beach Boys harmonies and Blood Orange guest vocals. And ‘Dance-Off’ is a, well, you probably guessed already. The band’s punk rock credentials might get questioned because of some of this stuff but Turnstile haven’t forgotten their roots. In and around the other sounds, they deploy hardcore mainstays- adrenalized tempos, gang vocals, killer rhythms- like guided missiles. No, wait, like fireworks. Because there’s very little aggression here. Instead ‘Glow On’ is hardwired to nod your head. It all adds up to a wholly believable, eminently approachable record by a band, apparently, at play. Ice cool. Box fresh. Such a sweet spot. 

It might even be too sweet. ‘Glow On’ is 35 minutes long but threatens to rot your teeth way before the halfway mark, to the point where I’m not sure if those are clouds on the cover, or actually big balls of candyfloss. There’s a smooth, sugary sheen in place that maybe comes with hiring a producer who co-wrote ‘In Da Club’. The songs are so strong, so many moments so memorable, that it maybe doesn’t matter, but it does make some moments interchangeable, sequencing moot. Ok, I don’t blame you for not knowing what I mean by that because right now I don’t really know myself- let’s just say that instead of one awesome album by one awesome band, this perhaps sounds like the best Spotify playlist you’ve never heard. 

Whether you go on the ride from front to back or hit shuffle though, ‘Glow On’ is spectacular. A damn near home run. Maybe not the shape of punk to come, but almost certainly the sound of punk right now. And hey, maybe even the album of the year.

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